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Senate Bill 3: Consensus Bill Enacted in 2007

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ENVIRONMENTAL FLOWS CYPRESS RIVER BASIN WATERSHED August 14, 2008 Region D Regional Water Planning Group.

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ENVIRONMENTAL FLOWSCYPRESS RIVER BASIN WATERSHEDAugust 14, 2008 Region D Regional Water Planning Group

Provide an overview of the state law and the specific work in the cypress basinInvite you to our next set of meetings – December 2-4 in JeffersonRequest the support of the Regional Water Planning Group in its statement “environmental water needs”
senate bill 3 consensus bill enacted in 2007
Senate Bill 3: Consensus Bill Enacted in 2007
  • Sec. 11.1471. Environmental Flows Standard & Set Asides (a)  The commission (TCEQ) by rule shall:
  • (1)  adopt appropriate environmental flow standards for each river basin … that are adequate to support a sound ecological environment, to the maximum extent reasonable considering other public interests and other relevant factors;
  • (2)  establish an amount of unappropriated water, if available, to be set aside to satisfy the environmental flow standards to the maximum extent reasonable….
existing goal in texas law
Existing Goal In Texas Law

 Maintaining the biological soundness of the state's rivers, lakes, bays, and estuaries is of great importance to the public's economic health and general well-being. (Section 11.0235(b))

how sb 3
How – SB 3
  • The legislature finds that:
  • (1)  in those basins in which water is available for appropriation, the commission should establish an environmental set-aside below which water should not be available for appropriation; and
  • (2)  in those basins in which the unappropriated water that will be set aside for instream flow and freshwater inflow protection is not sufficient . . . a variety of market approaches, both public and private, for filling the gap must be explored and pursued.
how continued
How (continued)
  • The legislature finds that recommendations for state action to protect instream flows and freshwater inflows should be developed through a consensus-based, regional approach involving balanced representation of stakeholders and that such a process should be encouraged throughout the state.
how much
How Much

Environmental Flow Standard: …adequate to support a sound ecological environment, to the maximum extent reasonable considering other public interests and other relevant factors;

  • Set Aside: an amount of unappropriated water, if available, … to satisfy the environmental flow standards to the maximum extent reasonable when considering human water needs.
A = Sabine & Neches Rivers/Sabine Lake Bay Area, begins November 2007B = Trinity & San Jacinto Rivers/Galveston Bay Area, begins November 2007C = Brazos River/Bay & Estuary Area, begins September 2009 D = Colorado & Lavaca Rivers/Matagorda & Lavaca Bays Area, begins September 2008 E = Guadalupe, San Antonio, Mission, & Aransas Rivers/Mission, & Bays Area, begins September 2008F = Nueces River/Corpus Christi & Baffin Bays Area, begins September 2009G = Rio Grande/Rio Grande Estuary & the Lower Laguna Madre Area, begins September 2009
senate bill 3
Senate Bill 3

In a “basin” for which there is no ongoing flow process, the law also allows,

“an effort to develop information on environmental flow needs and ways in which those needs can be met by a voluntary consensus-building process.” Sec. 11.02362(e).

goals of the cypress basin work

Voluntary effort to determine the amounts, frequency, and variation of instream flows needed in the watershed - based on sound science and a balancing of the needs and interests of stakeholders - to:

1. Protect the ecological, social and economic values provided by instream flows in the system (2004)

2. Assist with the efforts to address water quality impairments in the watershed protection plan.(added 2006)

examples of objectives
  • SB 3 Set Aside i.e., a state approved reservation of an environmental flow regime in the watershed, and
  • Revised Release Pattern for Lake O' the Pines: to provide a more natural pattern of flows downstream in Big Cypress and into Caddo Lake.
  • Water Quality Improvements: assure base flows needed for discharge of treated wastewaters.
Instream Flow Building Blocks (Envi. Flow Regime)

Big Cypress Creek/ Caddo Lake


Wet Year

Avg Year

Dry Year

6,000-10,000 cfs for 2-3 days

Every 3-5 years

*Maintain aquatic habitat in floodplain

* Riparian seed dispersal

* Inhibition of upland vegetation for both creek & lake

20,000 cfs for 2-3 days

Every 10 years

*For channel migration


6,000 cfs for 2-3 days

Every 2 years

* For channel maintenance

High Flow


  • 1,500 cfs for 2-3 days
  • 3-5X a year every year
  • * 1 occurring in March for Paddlefish, etc
  • * Sediment transport, oxbow connectivity
  • Waterfowl habitat flushing
  • (Includes December)

Low Flows

40 – 536 cfs

Maintain biodiversity and connectivity (backwater & oxbows)

268-347 cfs

Pre-dam median

390 - 79 cfs

Benthic drift & dispersal, fish spawning

35 - 40 cfs

Fish habitat

40 - 117 cfs

Pre-dam median

90 cfs

Fish habitat

218 – 49 cfs

Spawning habitat

13 - 6 cfs

Maintain aquatic diversity

40 - 90 cfs

Fish habitat













process to develop the recommendations
Process to Develop The Recommendations

December 2004

2006 - 2008

April 2005

2005 - 2008

May 2005, Oct 2006, Dec 2008

examples of 175 participants in the flows work to date
Examples of 175+ Participants in the Flows Work to Date
  • Local & Regional Governments – NETMWD, CVND, some local counties and cities.
  • Tx & La State Agencies – TPWD, TWDB, TCEQ, TSSWCB, LDEQ
  • Federal Agencies – Corps of Engineers, USGS, USFWS, National Wetlands Research Center
  • Universities – East Texas Baptist University, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, LSU Shreveport, TCU
  • Reps from Business and industries – AEP, Nestle Waters NA, Caddo Lake Chamber of Commerce
  • Others – Red River Valley Assn. DU, TNC, GCLA, NWF
examples of work
  • Literature Review & Summary of Scientific Studies - Tx A&M
  • Field Studies for Baseline Biological, Hydrological and Geomorphic Data - USGS as Lead Agency
  • New gage on Big Cypress - Partnership of TCEQ, USGS, NETMWD to Install and Maintain
  • Computer Modeling of flows - Corps of Engineers
  • Development of Building Blocks – Initial Recommendations for Flow Regimes for Big, Little and Black Cypress
Installation of a pressure transducer on Big Cypress Bayou to record water elevation. Left to right in the photo is Jeff Mabe (USGS-Biologist), Joe Trungle (Trungale Engineering and Science), Bruce Moring (USGS, Biologist), and Chris Braun (USGS - Hydrologist)
the invitation

Next full meeting: December 2-4 Jefferson, Texas

Background Materials:

Sign-up for updates and notices: [email protected]

the request

The opportunity to come back to you in the future to seek a statement in the Region D plan supporting for the goals, process and results, pursuant to

Section 16.053 (e) (5) (F) Texas Water Code that states that the regional plan should include an

“appropriate provision for environmental water needs”